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ByteDance Plea Against India's Freeze on Bank Account Dismissed by Mumbai High Court

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ByteDance Plea Against India’s Freeze on Bank Account Dismissed by Mumbai High Court

An Indian court on Tuesday dealt a blow to China’s ByteDance by dismissing its plea to unblock its bank accounts which have been frozen by federal authorities investigating alleged tax evasion.

An Indian tax intelligence agency in mid-March ordered HSBC and Citibank in Mumbai to freeze accounts of ByteDance India as it probed some of the firm’s financial dealings.

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ByteDance challenged the move in court saying the freeze amounts to harassment and was done illegally.

After a government counsel said ByteDance owed the authorities about Rs. 79 crores, the High Court in Mumbai said the company will need to keep that amount blocked in a state-run bank.

That “account will be frozen,” the two-judge bench said.

ByteDance in January reduced its Indian workforce after New Delhi maintained a ban on its popular video app TikTok, imposed last year after a border clash between India and China. Beijing has repeatedly criticised India over that ban and those of other Chinese apps.

None of ByteDance India’s employees have been paid their March salaries due to the account freeze, said two people familiar with the matter. The company told the court it has a workforce of 1,335, including outsourced personnel.

In the 209-page court filing lodged on March 25, ByteDance told the High Court in Mumbai the authorities acted against the company without any material evidence and gave no prior notice, as required by Indian law, before such “drastic action”.

Blocking accounts “during the process of investigation amounts (to) applying undue coercion,” ByteDance argued. It is “intended, improperly, to harass the petitioner.”

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© Thomson Reuters 2021
 


What is the best phone under Rs. 15,000 in India right now? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 27:54), we speak to OK Computer creators Neil Pagedar and Pooja Shetty. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Paytm Shares Jump to Six-Month High on Increased Monthly Users, More Payment Devices, Surge in Revenue

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Shares of Indian digital payments firm Paytm jumped more than 6 percent on Monday to their highest levels in nearly six months, after the company’s parent firm One 97 Communications Ltd posted an 89 percent surge in its quarterly revenue.

Higher number of monthly users, additional payment devices, and more disbursal of loans lifted the company’s revenue to Rs 1,680 crore, from Rs. 891 crore last year.

Investors appeared to show scant response to the company’s wider loss of Rs. 644 crore posted in its quarterly update after market close on Friday.

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Paytm, which competes with Google‘s payment app and Walmart’s PhonePe in India’s digital payments market, said it is on track to achieve operational profitability by September 2023.

“The notable print in the results was a sharply increased gross margin print in payments business resulting in expansion in contribution margins to 13bps,” JP Morgan analysts said in a note on Monday.

Processing charges of the company, backed by China’s Ant Group and Japan’s SoftBank Group, fell 10.4 percent to Rs. 694 crore sequentially.

“The management clarified that it could negotiate better deals with their bank partners, and rationalised certain low margin online merchant accounts that resulted in lower payment processing charges,” Macquarie analysts said in a note.

Shares of the company were up 6 percent at Rs. 830, as of 06:48am GMT (12:18pm IST).

“Earlier this year, we had shared that we would achieve operating profitability by September 2023, driven by better monetisation, as well as moderating growth in costs. The first quarter of the financial year 2023 results exhibit our strategy is well-in-place, with focused improvement on unit economics, better expense management and an increasing mix of higher margin businesses (such as financial services and commerce) steering us on the path to profitability,” the firm stated on Friday.


What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Hackers Plant Chinese Flag on Taiwan Government Websites Over Nancy Pelosi Visit

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In response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Chinese hackers planted the flag of China on the websites of several local government agencies across Taiwan. While China’s live-fire drills encircling Taiwan were taking place from Thursday, Chinese hackers covered a Kaohsiung government website with a China flag picture for over 10 hours from late Friday to Saturday morning, reported Taiwan News.

On Friday morning, it was admitted that the website of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs crashed for a few hours on Aug 2, 4, and 5.

The ministry explained there was a brute force attempt to crash the server, with up to 17 million times per minute access attempts from numerous Chinese and Russian IP addresses, reported Taiwan News.

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As a result, central government agencies were told to stay on high alert for malicious internet activities.

People familiar with the matter told Taiwan News that central government agencies have been ordered to keep tabs on websites and report problems up the chain of command to the Cabinet, every hour from Friday to noon on Monday (August 8).

Emergency response guidelines issued by the Cabinet on Friday say a website has to be taken down immediately if it has been hacked.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Education informed schools nationwide of its own emergency response guidelines to ensure cybersecurity, in which 24-hour security monitoring of each school website and an hourly update is required until next Monday, reported Taiwan News.

As the tensions in the Taiwan strait heightened soon with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China has been increasing its military activities.

Multiple Chinese planes and ships were detected around Taiwan Strait, simulating an attack on its main island, the Defence Ministry said on Saturday adding that some of them have crossed the median line.

According to the Ministry of National Defense, the armed forces responded to such a situation accordingly with surveillance systems, CAP aircraft, naval vessels and missile systems.

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“Multiple PLA craft were detected around Taiwan Strait, some have crossed the median line. Possible simulated attack against HVA. #ROCArmedForces have utilized alert broadcast, aircraft in CAP, patrolling naval vessels, and land-based missile systems in response to this situation,” Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence tweeted today.

Yesterday, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said that 68 Chinese military planes and 13 warships crossed over the median line to participate in drills.

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang blasted what he called “the evil neighbour” after China encircled the self-ruled island with a series of huge military drills that were condemned by the United States and other Western allies.

China is holding threatening military exercises in six zones off Taiwan’s coasts that it says will run through Sunday. Missiles have also been fired over Taiwan, defence officials told state media. The speaker is the highest-ranking US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

China opposes the self-governing island having its own contacts with foreign governments, but its response to the Pelosi visit has been unusually vociferous.

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What should you make of Realme’s three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Provident Fund Data of 28 Crore Indians Leaked By Hackers, Claims Ukraine Based Researcher

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Provident Fund (PF) data of about 28 crore Indians was found to have been leaked by hackers earlier this month. A cybersecurity researcher from Ukraine, Bob Diachenko, made the discovery on August 1 and found that details such as Universal Account Number (UANs), names, marital status, Aadhaar details, gender, and bank account details were exposed online. According to Diachenko, he found two different internet protocol (IP) addresses hosting two clusters of leaked data. Both of these IPs were hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud storage service.

Cybersecurity researcher Bob Diachenko detailed the leak in a post on LinkedIn. On August 2, Diachenko discovered two separate IP clusters of data that contained indices called UAN. Upon reviewing the clusters, he found that the first cluster contained 280,472,941 records, whereas the second IP contained 8,390,524 records.

“After quick review of the samples (using a simple browser), I was sure that I am looking at something big and important”, Diachenko said in his post. However, he was not able to find who owned the data. Both the IP addresses were hosted on Microsoft’s Azure platform and were India-based. He wasn’t able to obtain other information via a reverse DNS analysis.

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The Shodan and Censys search engines from Diachenko’s SecurityDiscovery firm found these clusters on August 1. However, it is not clear how long the information was available online. The data could’ve been misused by hackers to gain access to the PF account. Data such as name, gender, Aadhaar details, could also be used to create fake identities and documents.

The researcher tagged the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) in a tweet informing them about the leak. The CERT-In replied to his tweet asking him to provide a report of the hack in an email. Both IP addresses were taken down within 12 hours after his tweet. Diachenko says that since August 3, no company or agency has come forward to take responsibility for the hack

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